Dave's Madagascar


December 31 - January 9, 2012

Malagasy Ariary / US Dollar
1 MGA = 0.000476190 USD / 1 USD = 2,100.00 MGA

Song lyrics

I can't remember my exact inspiration for this trip, but it may have been a combination of this movie and a "well, that would be somewhere new to see" attitude. Prior to this trip I had only met one other American that had been to Madagascar, and even then it was a random person in airport conversation two weeks before leaving for this trip. Even while in Madagascar I only encountered two other Americans, so not a lot of us here.

While I have been researching this trip for years, I only pulled the trigger on it at the beginning of December, tacking it on to the back end of my existing Tanzania trip as part of my "sabbatical."
Not the perfect time of year to go here, but doable.

I like wildlife photography a lot, and researching the trip lemurs were cerainly a big turn on here. Funny that I would spend thousands of dollars and cross thousands of miles to see them, when the best opportunity to view lemurs outside of Madagascar is arguably at Duke University where I went to grad school, at the ambiguously named "Duke Lemur Center," but never went to see them there (what, was the walk too far Dave? Actually I didn't even know about them then.).

Saturday 31st- fly to Madagascar

Up at 4am to drive out to the airport- about a 45min drive and the car was close to running out of gas and all the gas stations we stopped at were closed, NICE!
Not exactly a lot of options to make up for a missed flight here either.
Quick analysis- not much I could do about this situation at this point other than hope we find an open station... so sigh, and hope for the best. Who will win today, Africa or Dave?

Thankfully we found an open station...now there is a travel group of Swedes monopolizing the one ticket agent...
Got checked in 10min before departure, admittedly not a whole lot else at this airport they would have had to deal with.

Kenya Air $649
6am Kilimanjaro, Tanzania to 11:40am Antananarivo, Madagascar

My trip loosely based on Madagascar East Package (8 days / 7 nights) $2686
But customized $3502.
Apart from the airfare, it would have cost almost nothing more for a second person to have come with me. Traveling alone generally not the best value, but for anyone seeking alone time I have a ton of it.

New year's eve flight out of Tanzania I at long last see for myself one of the best song lyrics that had been dancing through my head for decades, "...I know that I must do what's right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, ...I bless the rains down in Africa..." Happy new year.

This actually tasted pretty good.

Sure are a lot of Polynesian looking people here, go figure.

"You will be met at the airport and transferred directly to Andasibe through a landscape composed of rice paddies, waterfalls and scarce forest stations. Along our way we will stop at Marozevo to visit a reptile farm. Then we head to Andasibe, a small and pleasant village, former logging centre and home to one of the most visited National Parks of the island."
We skipped the reptile farm for now.

Our trusted steed- a 1993 Mazda 626. Not exactly a Land Rover or Land Cruiser, but heck I am on a budget these days...

Time to make it rain in Tana baby!!
The largest denomination, 10000, about $5.

Antananarivo proper in the distance- or Tana for short.

Antananarivo to Andasibe

Brick production and selling is a popular occupation.

Typical Malagasy house- usually three rooms inside. One each for sleeping, cooking, animals.

Also did you know Malagasies eat more rice on a per capita basis than any other country in the world?
These rice fields everywhere also account for why malaria can be caught even in an urban area like the capital.

Typical to see clothes being dried this way.

Like my previous two countries on this trip, I thought the pollution emitted from vehicles was terrible. The mitigating factor being Rwanda and Madagascar have relatively few vehicles.

There are a ton of these old looking French cars everywhere, kind of Havana-espue. Someone mentioned that they are in fact not vintage vehicles.

We stop for a spark plug change.

Supposed to stay at Andasibe Forest Lodge, which is the same thing as the Vakona Lodge. Before leaving my tour agency said that Vakona was closed and switched me to the place below.
Turns out Vakona was still open, is considered the top place in the area, and even had WiFi in the commons area, which would have been greatly appreciated for something to do on New Year's Eve.
In hindsight I would have been better off disconnected for the whole trip, but that is another story.

Name of this place makes me feel like I'm going to be molested by a European

"Before dinner, we will go on a night walk in the area of Andasibe, where we will have the chance to see some nocturnal species of lemurs."

Me and my guide out in the rain- we spotted some of the world's largest and smallest chameleons.

From far off a dwarf lemur.

And also from far away a mouse lemur.

NYE dinner- me and a few guests, and a DJ sitting around.

Park website

Sunday 1st
Andasibe – Akan in’ Ny Nofy

*** Make sure we visit "Lemur Island" by the Vakona Forest Lodge. Has 5 types of lemurs that will jump on you.


Female Brown lemur

Black and white ruffed lemur

Diademed Sifaka

I had thought only Verreaux's Sifaka did the sideways walk thing, but I guess all Sifakas do.

My fav video clip from the trip.

A female red-fronted brown lemur I think.

Brown lemur

Brown lemur ass in face.

10 second boat ride back across.

Old train station.

"After breakfast, we will go on a morning visit of the Ananlamazoatra reserve to see the Indri lemurs, the largest of the lemur species, as well as brown lemurs, bamboo lemurs, various birds, colorful chameleons and other fauna and flora Andasibe National Park is renowned for."

"We will spend a day exploring this national park/reserve is situated on the central eastern coast of the island, 1.5 km from the town of Andasibe. It covers a total of 12,810 hectares, on an extensive region of hills covered by a dense primary rainforest. One of the park’s primary purposes is to protect the natural habitat of the largest of the lemurs, the Indri, a larger black and white marked lemur. There are 62 different groups of the Indri, a diurnal species, that feeds on leaves and fruit. They spend the time on the top of the trees eating and enjoying the sun. There is a local legend that a boy named Koto climbed a tree in the forest to collect wild honey and was severely stung by the bees. Losing his hold, he fell, but was caught by a indri which carried him on its back to safety."

"In addition to the Indri, the park has 10 other species of Lemur, large chameleons and the blue boa. The flora is just as spectacular, with numerous species of trees, palms, orchids (which flower in October/November), and other intriguing endemic species."

Sifakas in the trees.

Diademed Sifakas

Indri- the largest of all living lemurs, and do not survive in captivity.

Indri call- kind of liek a whale with a loud kazoo.

Park museum area